Title: A Discovery of Witches
Author: Deborah Harkness
Publisher: Viking Penguin
Goodreads Synopsis: Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.
Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.
I finally finished this book over the weekend, and I am still reeling over how much I loved it! I think this will easily be one of my favorite books of the year, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequels! After so many mediocre reads, it’s nice to come across something I really like every once in a while! I did dock a point for unnecessary/bizarre details, which I will get into in a minute. But all in all I thought this was really well-written, and flowed seamlessly. For lack of a better word, I was “spellbound” for the duration of this book!
I found the characters to be strong and interesting, they each had distinctive personalities and character flaws. Since this is the first book in the trilogy, you get a solid base understanding of the main and supporting characters knowing that a deeper relationship with them will come in future books.
Speaking of flaws, I found Diana Bishop to be somewhat emotionally unstable and immature for someone with a doctorate degree. Although, Matthew is definitely the more unstable of the two. Matthew, a thousand year old vampire, is a territorial and controlling SOB with trust issues and a taste for blood. I guess if I had been alive for a millennium I would have trust issues too, but you’d think he would have mellowed out over the years. His relationship with Diana was a bit “insta-lovey” for my taste, but only because the author reiterates over and over that it’s only been a few weeks since they met. If it wasn’t pointed out, I probably wouldn’t have noticed. Although, relationships seem to happen pretty quickly in this book, seeing that we are also meeting the parents and getting married after only a few weeks. Here’s an actual summary of the actual marriage:
Diana: Hey, I just met you and I love you.
Matthew: …I’m going to London for a bit. Also, I’m withholding valuable information from you because reasons.
Diana: Bye! I’m going to wallow in self-pity and depression until you get back.
Matthew: Hey, I’m back and I love you too! And now we’re married.
Diana/Me: Wait… What?
The insta-marriage is only one example of the strange particulars that went down in this book; some, more charming and relevant than others.
Most of the reviews I read said that the beginning of this book was boring, but I didn’t find it to be that way. I was drawn in from the first pages as Harkness set the stage for what was to come. However, I will say that it could have been edited down. I found some of the supporting characters, plot points, and descriptions to be unnecessary and irrelevant to the plot. They could have easily been taken out without being detrimental to the story. Not only this, but there were a lot of different plot lines going on, which made it very confusing as to which plot was the main, central plot. Some of these plots seemed very problematic to our characters in the beginning, and were pretty much abandoned as our characters moved from place to place. Hopefully, they will all tie together in the next two books.
Criticisms aside, I did love reading this book. I’m excited to see where Elizabethan England takes Diana and Matthew in book two!